The Effectiveness of Conservation Reserves: Land Tenure Impacts upon Biodiversity across Extensive Natural Landscapes in the Tropical Savannahs of the Northern Territory, Australia

John Casimir Zichy-Woinarski, Jon Green, A Fisher, Michelle Ensbey, Brendan Mackey

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    Abstract

    This study examines whether there is a biodiversity benefit (“dividend”) associated with the existence and management of conservation reserves in the extensive and largely natural landscape of northern Australia. Species richness and abundance of vertebrate fauna and the intensity of a range of disturbance factors were compared across a set of 967 sampled quadrats, located either in pastoral lands, Indigenous lands or conservation reserves, with all sampled quadrats within a single vegetation type (open forests and savannah woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus miniata and/or E. tetrodonta). The relationships with land tenure varied between major taxonomic groups, but generally (and particularly for threatened species) values were highest for conservation reserves. This “biodiversity dividend” associated with conservation reserves is considered to be due to the effects of management rather than because conservation reserves were established on lands supporting atypically high conservation values. The impact of weeds and (unsurprisingly) livestock was greatest on pastoral lands, and pig impact was greatest in conservation reserves. Although pastoral and Indigenous lands supported lower biodiversity tallies than reserved lands, the conservation values of reserved lands in this region are probably substantially supported by the maintenance of relatively intact ecological systems across all lands.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-36
    Number of pages17
    JournalLand
    Volume2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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